Since the games were public spectacles, entrance was free. However, people needed tickets. The entry tickets told them which entrance to use and where to sit. Each arched entrance had a number carved above it. The number was matched to the entry ticket.
The design of Colosseum was so clever that fifty thousand hurrying people could enter, show their entry tickets, and be seated in 15 minutes.
The stands were divided into sections according to precise social categories. Emperor Augustus carefully regulated the separation of the different classes at all public spectacles.
The first section, the podium, was reserved for the senators, while the equites sat right above them in the frontrows of the first maenianum. Separation was ensured by inscriptions carved on the stands indicating the magistracies, priestly classes, social categories or ethnic groups which were to sit in a given place. One of the epigraphs that have been preserved designates the place reserved for foreign ambassadors and diplomats (called hospites), while another one refers to the ethnic origin Gaditanorum (from Cadiz). Other fragments document special seats for the young praetextati (youth who had no yet reached the age of manhood and thus of civic duties, and who wore the toga praetexta) or school teachers (paedagogipuerorum).
An important epigraphic text of A.D. 80 designates the seats reserved for the priestly Arval Brothers, which were separated and distinguished in the different sections (from the podium to the wooden stands) according to the rank held in the cult. The senators, however, had the privilege of personal seats, on which their full names were written, as attested by the inscribed blocks of marble now lying around the arena, but which were originally mounted along the edge of the podium as a parapet. On the front is the dedication for the restoration work on the stands carried out by the prefect of Rome.
Flavius Paulus in the middle of the fifth century, while on the back are epigraphs with the names of the different senators carved in on the seats belonging to them in the first row.
In other cases the names were carved on the upper edge of the marble seats and as the years went by were gradually rubbed off and replaced. Those that are still legible belong to the senatorial class of the late fifth century, the last one to attend the spectacles.
«Having been outraged by the insult to a senator who, at a crowded show in Puteoli, had not been offered a seat by anyone, [Augustus] ordered regulations to prevent the disorderly and haphazard distribution of seats. He had a senatorial decree issued providing that at every public performance the front row of seats be reserved for senators. He separated soldiers from civilians. He assigned special seats to married commoners and a special section to boys not yet come of age, as well as one to their tutors nearby. He banned badly dressed spectators from the best seats, and confined women to the highest rows, whereas they had previously sat together with men.
He assigned a separate section, facing the praetor’s box, to the Vestal Virgins. He did not allow any women at all to watch athletic contests. Indeed, when the crowd called for a boxing match during the Pontifical Games he postponed it until the following morning, and he issued an edict announcing that he did not want women to go to the theater before ten o‘clock»
(Suetonius, August, 44, 3-4).